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Thread: Donating Blood

  1. #1
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    Donating Blood

    I want to figure out my blood type am am thinking about donating blood. How much do they usually take? I dont' mind getting cut and bleeding but when I see blood going directly from my vein into a vial, it makes me queezy.

    Also, how long after do you need to take it easy? If you donate in the morning, will you be fine to do a moderate ride that night?

  2. #2
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    As much as I hate spoon-feeding someone who is too lazy to use google, I was lucky enough to receive two units of blood less than a week ago, so will make this easy.

    Blood & Tissue Services | Frequently Asked Questions
    (Link is to my local blood bank's site)

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnowMongoose View Post
    As much as I hate spoon-feeding someone who is too lazy to use google, I was lucky enough to receive two units of blood less than a week ago, so will make this easy.

    Blood & Tissue Services | Frequently Asked Questions
    (Link is to my local blood bank's site)
    First of all, I wouldn't call someone lazy who is willing to take the time and trouble to help someone like yourself out

    Secondly, I did Google and read your link but still don't have all of my questions answered. Have you ever donated blood? If so, maybe you could provide some more insight.

  4. #4
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    I used to donate blood until a year ago. Back in the Sovyet Union it was 200 gr. and you also got a free lunch and a paid day off work. Here in Israel it all is much simpler. 400 gr., and you are good to go after a few minutes of sitting in the room. Every time I donated blood, I fainted (or fell asleep, as it was how it felt). Not a big deal though. Normally a nurse is supposed to take notice and just talk to you, keeping you conscious.
    Anyway, I never had a problem working (lifting heavy things that is) and commuting back home by bicycle after donating.

  5. #5
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    I've donated blood a few times.

    Once I donated blood, then forgot about it the next day and went for a ride. I could tell something was wrong while I was riding. I kept stopping to see if my brakes were rubbing or my tires were under inflated. Finally I remembered I had donated the previous day.

    An easy/moderate ride might be okay the same day. Try to go by how you feel and don't push yourself. Drink more than usual.

    Having the needle in my arm for so long feels uncomfortable , and I usually don't look at it.

    I don't remember how much blood they take.

  6. #6
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    Typically they take 450ml, which is a standard unit of blood.
    You get free cookies, and sometimes score an attractive nurse to talk to. Other times you don't. At least the cookies are always there.
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    Easy process. They just take a unit. I don't miss it a bit, although I'm a pretty good-sized guy, I suppose. Freaks some people out, I suppose, but it is pretty painless and quick for me. I do it whenever I can.
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    Usually around one pint is taken. Most places will hold you for about 15-20 minutes after donating to make sure you are alright, and give you a sugary drink and a snack to help recover some of your lost blood sugars. They recommend no strenuous activity for the rest of the day (ie, no lifting over your head, or working out). Some banks will do a gratis blood test and share the results with you, some will not. Blood and plasma are separated and kept in a cool environment for up to 2 weeks.

    There is also a pre-screen that they do. It depends on the blood bank performing it, but you are generally not allowed to donate if you show signs of any infection, have had a tattoo done in the last 6(?) months, or are underweight. Certain pre-existing conditions will preclude you from donations.

  9. #9
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    Seems like you're going the wrong way. Blood doping, not losing blood! I would take it easy for a day or two. It's not a bad process unless you are a needle or blood phob.
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    Bloodsource typically takes a pint of blood for a donation. Typically takes 5 - 7 minutes. Typically, you should wait 24 hours before resuming riding.

  11. #11
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    You get paid to donate plasma, which also is used to save lives. So that's a win, win!
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

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    They take 1 pint. You got 8 pints to start. You're down 12.5%, roughly. You will feel bad if you ride the same day. You may feel wierd riding the week following. If I recall from conversations with the nurse, it takes roughly 2weeks to replenish red blood cells (these are the little friends that carry oxygen from lungs to legs and other muscles). You can fully replace the fluid loss within 48 hrs if you drink lots of water.

    Your blood does lots of stuff - it's part of a heat transfer system keeping you from getting too hot, it transports nutrients to other functional groups in your body, it transports waste from muscles to waste processing organs, it transports oxygen to muscles and your brain.

    Don't force it. If you feel like you absolutely cannot be less than 100% for a week, don't donate. I try to donate 2-3 times a year, even though I almost inevitably pass out afterward. I feel more smug than a prius driver for the rest of the donation day. Sometimes you get a shirt.

    Watch it with the phone number you provide; they'll call you all the time to try to get you to donate every 2 months (I think that's the minimum period between donations). After many attempts to get my number removed from the call list, I finally told the caller that I'd make them a deal: stop calling me for 6 months, and I'll start donating again. Didn't get a call back. Not a bad tactic to remember if you just want to donate on your schedule and not on the blood bank's.

  13. #13
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    I've been donating blood for decades, about 9 gallons total so far. I've also donated platelets and plasma quite a few times, but the local blood bank only tracks whole blood donations. How much you donate (with this particular blood bank) depends on your weight; they won't take anyone, of any age, under 105 lbs., while bigger guys (205 lbs.) like me donate a full unit (of whole blood). There is a looooooooong list of exclusions (have you visited Europe in the last 7 years? have you had any non-medical needle sticks?) that will prevent you from donating, but won't prevent you from getting your blood typed for you. The blood bank may also have blood pressure and heart rate restrictions, and for a cyclist (or other athlete) this can pose problems. My blood bank won't allow me to donate when my resting pulse is below 45bpm, even though they know 45 or less is normal for me. I try to donate after an evening ride, or first thing in the morning, in order to make sure I'm over 45.

    After donating whole blood I get tired noticeably faster, so I go on longer "recovery" speed rides for a couple days, or go hiking. Or I donate just before a large storm system moves in, and sit on my butt for a couple days because it's raining too hard to go for a ride anyway. After a plasma donation I just feel dehydrated, and am fully recovered the next day. I have never noticed any effects from a platelet donation. The only problem I've ever had was the needle once slit the opposite side of the vein, and I bled into my elbow, making my elbow purple like it had been bruised without actually getting injured. Big whoop.

    The needle doesn't bother me, and I (apparently) have big veins, so they've used me as a guinea pig for interns on several occasions. If big needles and getting stabbed bother you, tell them! They'll use an experienced vampire to stick you, instead of a newbie. The whole process (interview, prep, taking the blood, mandatory post-donation recovery period), even with an appointment, can take half an hour for whole blood, longer for plasma, up to 80 minutes for platelets - bring a book. If you decide to become a regular donor, ask them for their scheduling preference. My blood bank prefers donations right before holidays, because holidays bring holiday traffic and increased accidents, which drain blood bank supplies.

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    Thanks all for the replies. I'll probably donate just before I have family visit for a week. I won't be as active then.

    Random thought -- do you feel more drunk if you drink after donating? I figure your bac would be higher but your body will have the same amount of alcohol in it so my guess is that it would affect you any different.


    Quote Originally Posted by SnowMongoose View Post
    As much as I hate spoon-feeding someone who is too lazy to use google, I was lucky enough to receive two units of blood less than a week ago, so will make this easy.

    Blood & Tissue Services | Frequently Asked Questions
    (Link is to my local blood bank's site)
    See how all the nice people responded and provided great info that I couldn't find on google

  15. #15
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    yes, they warn you not to drink because you get drunk much faster. at least that is what i heard.

  16. #16
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    If you are male, donating blood is a very good thing to do. Some actually are medically required to donate on account of iron concentrations that are too high. My uncle has a condition called hemochromatosis (too much iron in the blood, genetically passed, Hemochromatosis - PubMed Health) and that led to liver failure and ultimately was within days of death had a liver not become available for transplant. My iron levels tend to be on the high side, so my butt gets into the donation chair 4-5 times a year. I've been doing this for a decade. Females with their regular cycle keeps the iron in check naturally. Think of it sort of like an oil change for the car. The idea of saving lives is great too.

    The absolute best thing you can do before a blood donation is to drink ~1 liter of water 30 minutes before the check in process. If you are slightly dehydrated, your blood may clot on the way out and the donation time will be longer than you would like. If you are hydrated fully, the unit (450ml) of blood will be out before you can say where is the remote for the tv. They will ask you at check in on about plenty to drink. This isn't a question to tell a white lie on...I learned that the hard way..twice.

    You will feel weak afterwards but you can take it easy for a day. You can have a stroll around the neighborhood later in the day but you will be sucking wind if you try to do anything more than a stroll in the park. Donate on a Tuesday and you'll be fully recovered by the weekend.

  17. #17
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    I do that about twice a year, it usually takes 10 mins but the whole thing takes longer almost 1 hr, and you get cookies and juices I like that. I couldn't imagine riding afterward though

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    Everyone responds differently which is basically true of most physiology questions. My wife donates regularly and normally does not have any issues. She once bonked really badly on a very mild, paved bike ride hours after donating.

    My body does not respond well to giving blood. I don't mind the needle and I don't mind the sight of blood. I can watch the entire process. At an annual physical that I must have, I have give two small vials of blood. By the end of the first vial I start to feel a little queezy and warm. By the end of the second vial I get a burning sensation in the back of my neck and usually feel nauseous. A full pint of blood f's me up. Also, my blood pumps very slowly.

  19. #19
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    you are really making this a much bigger deal than it is. it takes like 30 seconds, dont look at the vile. dont go run a few miles right after. piece of cake.

  20. #20
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    I donated yesterday on the Red Cross Bloodmobile. Took me 2 1/2 months
    to lower my blood sugar, lost 12 lbs, eating super healthy, no alcohol, no coffee,
    no sodas, very little carbs....
    run every day (bike only twice a week now )
    blood pressure now averages 110/73, I feel great.
    Hope the blood goes to someone who needs it. Type O negative.

  21. #21
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    i'm glad somebody else is donating blood, because i wont ever again, even though my bad experience was due to a few factors. I had to donate a couple pints to myself, for an upcoming surgery. I was a teenager, and a couple pounds lighter than the minimum weight limit, but figured a couple pounds was no big deal. Well, i fainted in front of everyone once they tried to stand me up. it wasnt a fear of needles or anything, it was just lack of blood. it was very uncomfortable and embarrassing. it caused a big scene too.

    i know that is unlikely to happen again, but i'm scarred by it! However, for you, a bigger dude, it wont be a problem. As others said, you'll be wiped out for a bit, especially if they take a pint (which i think is about standard). I did it twice, and only passed out once i think it was lack of blood and standing up too fast
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    i'm glad somebody else is donating blood, because i wont ever again, even though my bad experience was due to a few factors. I had to donate a couple pints to myself, for an upcoming surgery. I was a teenager, and a couple pounds lighter than the minimum weight limit, but figured a couple pounds was no big deal. Well, i fainted in front of everyone once they tried to stand me up. it wasnt a fear of needles or anything, it was just lack of blood. it was very uncomfortable and embarrassing. it caused a big scene too.

    i know that is unlikely to happen again, but i'm scarred by it!
    I wouldn't worry too much about not donating. Yesterday the young guy at the registration table said 30 people signed up in front of my building, up 10 from the day before at another location. I think the Red Cross exaggerates sometimes about the need for blood because I hear stories about them throwing blood away on a daily basis.

    Anyways the needle or blood doesn't faze me. What is irritating is the easy listening radio station piped inside the bloodmobile. Who wants to hear a rotation of Kelly Clarkson, Whitney Houston and Coldplay.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjfp View Post
    My body does not respond well to giving blood. I don't mind the needle and I don't mind the sight of blood. I can watch the entire process. At an annual physical that I must have, I have give two small vials of blood. By the end of the first vial I start to feel a little queezy and warm. By the end of the second vial I get a burning sensation in the back of my neck and usually feel nauseous. A full pint of blood f's me up. Also, my blood pumps very slowly.
    Stop looking at the needle and the vial. That is a psychological response, not a physical one, at least for 2 vials.

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    If you're just donating to check your blood type, don't bother unless it's simple curiosity. I see a lot of people put down their blood type on road ID's and other emergency info forms, and it's pointless. At least in the US, n

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    Nobody is going to give you un-typed, un-cross matched blood on the basis of your word or some form. In an emergency, you'll be getting O-neg or O-pos, which everyone can receive because it lacks A and B antibodies. Better to use the space on the ID for another phone number. Not sure if this applies outside of the US.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny500 View Post
    If you're just donating to check your blood type, don't bother unless it's simple curiosity. I see a lot of people put down their blood type on road ID's and other emergency info forms, and it's pointless. At least in the US, n
    The main reason I want to know is for having kids. My wife is AB-. If she gets pregnant and I'm Rh+ precautions need to be taken incase the baby's blood is Rh+. I'm not sure what the exact precautions are (I think at least a shot) but maybe someone else on here knows or has gone through it.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    The main reason I want to know is for having kids. My wife is AB-.
    You shouldn't worry about that. If you're able to get her pregnant her OB will make sure she's given a RhoGam shot so Mom & baby will be fine.

    I can't even estimate how many units of blood I've obtained during more than 20 years of laboratory work. Whether it was drawing Marines on a Friday afternoon so they could get drunk on less money or for patients with Polycythaemia vera it was easy and relatively painless if the phlebotomist had good technique.

    Nurses can kiss my ass. They think they're the only ones who know how to wield a 16 gauge needle. They should stick to helping patients and leave the blood collection and processing to Medical Technologists.

    Anyway. Everyone hit the high points on how your body will react to the loss in blood volume. You will feel weak for several days if not a couple of weeks after the donation. Oxygen carrying Red Blood Cells have a 56 day life. If you remove a portion of the RBC population it will be 56 days before your RBC volume is back to normal.

    Many years ago a friend was hit by a car while on a group ride around White Rock Lake in Dallas. He was pinned under the truck and suffered multiple broken bones and required extensive emergency surgeries. To offset the cost of the blood products used we were able to do a "directed donation" at the local blood bank. I think we donated over 100 units for him which helped since I recall the surgeons used more than 20 units of packed RBC's, platelets and plasma.

    When my brother and I went to donate I was fine, but when my brother saw the drop of blood they took during the screening process he fainted. That disqualified him as a donor but our friend still got credit for a donation.

    If you only want your ABO Rh checked go see your doctor. If you want to help others and you want free cookies and OJ, donate a unit.

    Oh, and if you do bother to write your ABO Rh in your helmet or on a med-alert bracelet that's fine, but they never pay attention to it. If they want uncross-matched blood you'll always get O Neg. Unless you have a bunch of antibodies (Kell, Lewis, Lutheran, etc) the Med Tech in the blood bank will have a bunch of units cross-matched in a fairly timely fashion.

    There's also a chance they'd use synthetic blood substitute (Poly-Heme?) but I don't know where the FDA trials are with the approval since I changed from being a Med Tech to an electrician.
    Authorities speculate that speed may have been a factor. They are also holding gravity and inertia for questioning.

  28. #28
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    i used to donate blood, but i had a heart attack... nothing wrong with me, just bad weed and a defective valve, so now i'm not allowed. i've been considering it, but the valve is the problem. now that i know its a little screwy i'm more worried about it as i get older. they still call me though, even after i tell the my situation, so if you can, lie about your number. they're worse than bill collectors.

  29. #29
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    I donate regularly at work. They typically take a pint, but once the nurse attending the guy next to me went on break and when she came back they'd drained over a gallon out of him. The squeezed most of it back in and the guy was ok. They were REALLY embarrassed about it.

    Of course, I'm kidding. They take endless safety measures to ensure that you're safe and the blood you donate is safe. As for recovery, I don't ride for a few days afterward, and then I take it easy for a few rides. Once a did a special type of donation called apheresis, where they spin out the platelets and return the plasma to you, effectively taking 2 units worth of platelets. Ii seemed to take me weeks to recover, so I just do standard whole blood donations now.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gasp4Air View Post
    I donate regularly at work. They typically take a pint, but once the nurse attending the guy next to me went on break and when she came back they'd drained over a gallon out of him. The squeezed most of it back in and the guy was ok. They were REALLY embarrassed about it.

    Of course, I'm kidding. They take endless safety measures to ensure that you're safe and the blood you donate is safe. As for recovery, I don't ride for a few days afterward, and then I take it easy for a few rides. Once a did a special type of donation called apheresis, where they spin out the platelets and return the plasma to you, effectively taking 2 units worth of platelets. Ii seemed to take me weeks to recover, so I just do standard whole blood donations now.
    I was so ready to call BS on that! As it's being drawn the unit rests on a rocker that has a scale incorporated as well as an alarm. When the scale reaches the set weight the alarm sounds and the phlebotomist removes the needle and takes the unit away.

    As for apheresis, in your donation they're taking the platelets. They have the ability to be cell specific with apheresis and take other cells as well such as white cells. Or they can return all the cells and take only the plasma. Plasma is made of more than water. It also has proteins (antibodies), glucose and clotting factors. It's the clotting factors their after. They do more for a bleeding patient than platelets (thrombocytes) do, but they want a patient to have both.
    Authorities speculate that speed may have been a factor. They are also holding gravity and inertia for questioning.

  31. #31
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    Thanks for the info I had a follow up question about the RhoGam shot but found the answer on a baby forum. I figure that would have gotten things a bit off topic for a mtbr forum

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    I'd say take a break that day next day go ride, I felt a little loopy the rest of the day after i donated blood

  33. #33
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    On paper, you can expect slightly lower endurance in the short term (days/weeks- depending on how your body recovers... red blood cells typically take a couple of months to return to the same levels- that's why you can't donate again for 56 days). This translates to the real world in ways like: your max heart rate will be a bit lower (by 10% or so) than your usual anaerobic threshold.

    I gave blood on Friday morning. Rode home on my regular bike commute route at a leisurely pace. Took it easy Saturday, rode dirt Sunday and commuted in again today. I haven't noticed a huge change during medium+ pedal exertion.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by edubfromktown View Post
    This translates to the real world in ways like: your max heart rate will be a bit lower (by 10% or so) than your usual anaerobic threshold.
    So, if my usual anaerobic threshold is 168 bpm, my max HR after donating will be something like 168 - 16.8 = 151bpm? That does not fit my experience.

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    Caffeine powered wrote............"Nurses can kiss my ass. They think they're the only ones who know how to wield a 16 gauge needle. They should stick to helping patients and leave the blood collection and processing to Medical Technologists."

    This has been quoted for truth. My first carreer was as a Paramedic in the eighties. Phlebotomists and guys working in the trenches are far superior with needles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny500 View Post
    Nobody is going to give you un-typed, un-cross matched blood on the basis of your word or some form. In an emergency, you'll be getting O-neg or O-pos, which everyone can receive because it lacks A and B antibodies. Better to use the space on the ID for another phone number. Not sure if this applies outside of the US.
    Highlighted part is false. The only type that is universal is O NEG. O POS is just like any other type of blood where it has to be matched to its type for donating. It used to be thought that O type was universal but it has been changed for about 15 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by fatcat View Post
    I wouldn't worry too much about not donating. Yesterday the young guy at the registration table said 30 people signed up in front of my building, up 10 from the day before at another location. I think the Red Cross exaggerates sometimes about the need for blood because I hear stories about them throwing blood away on a daily basis.

    Anyways the needle or blood doesn't faze me. What is irritating is the easy listening radio station piped inside the bloodmobile. Who wants to hear a rotation of Kelly Clarkson, Whitney Houston and Coldplay.
    They dont throw away the blood. If it has gone past its shelf life or is getting close, it gets donated to science.


    I donate when I can. Next time Im going to give a double red donation so that I wont feel all funky afterwards which I did today. Check into that if you dont want to have all the weird side effects.

  37. #37
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    I donated today and it went well -- easier than expected. I got a little queasy at first (as expected because I'm a wimp with having blood drawn) but it wasn't bad at all. Some good things about it:
    1. It could help save a life
    2. I got a free mini-physical
    3. I got an hour off work
    4. I'll find out my blood type
    5. they'll check my blood for diseases
    6. Free food and drinks

    I'm celebrating a birthday tonight so it'll be interesting to see what effect a beer and couple margaritas have (being a pint down). I'll probably do something active tomorrow (either tennis, bike, or paddle board) and think I"ll be fine energy wise.

  38. #38
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    I'm about one or two units away from my ten gallon pin. Been donating for over 30 years. No ill effects from any donation. But I've always lived at or above 8K feet. Got lotsa extra red blood cells. Never gone for a ride just after. Always use donation as an excuse to eat big.

    Also you get free juice. Back before AIDS, they paid me a few bucks. I'm O+, universal donor.
    Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous View Post
    I'm about one or two units away from my ten gallon pin. Been donating for over 30 years. No ill effects from any donation. But I've always lived at or above 8K feet. Got lotsa extra red blood cells. Never gone for a ride just after. Always use donation as an excuse to eat big.

    Also you get free juice. Back before AIDS, they paid me a few bucks. I'm O+, universal donor.
    10 gallons, wow! That's awesome.


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  40. #40
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    I have been donating about 4 years, just got my 5 gallon pin a few months ago. I do platelets whenever they call me which ends up being once a month or more and RBC and plasma when they decide to take them as well. Part of what got me started donating was my doctor told me I had very high iron and was concerned about hemochromatosis, some google searching gave me the idea to donate and haven't heard anything from the doc about high iron since.

    I don't ride my bike to appointments, but I will ride to work the next day. Usually feel a bit sluggish that day, but the next day is pretty good. Can't say that I notice much difference no matter what components are taken.

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    I've been giving blood for years and never suffered an ill effect, not once. No fainting, dizziness, weakness, bleeding, bruising, nada. It's different for everyone I'm sure - I weigh 215 lbs so I have a bit of blood to spare. But I've since given up on listening to warnings - I ride when I feel like it, I lift when I feel like it, and the gears are still turning.

  42. #42
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    Might not want to lift on your way home from donating, you are likely to spring a leak.

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    They specified one hour after donating, but as it happens I don't usually combine weight lifting with donating blood in the same trip so there hasn't been a conflict

  44. #44
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    Why do these posts always end up in general instead of off camber...
    I do all my own stunts, but never intentionally...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous View Post
    I'm about one or two units away from my ten gallon pin. Been donating for over 30 years. No ill effects from any donation. But I've always lived at or above 8K feet. Got lotsa extra red blood cells. Never gone for a ride just after. Always use donation as an excuse to eat big.

    Also you get free juice. Back before AIDS, they paid me a few bucks. I'm O+, universal donor.
    Wow, that's terrific. I wonder how many lives those 10 gallons have helped save over the years (especially considering you have the "goto" blood for emergencies).

  46. #46
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    I have donated regularly my whole adult life, but for the first time tried riding after donating. My performance sucked, so I came looking her for info.

    I went for a 7 mi ride about an hour after donating, didn't push it, and felt OK. Today I went for a 14 mi ride, figuring I would be pretty mich back to normal, but posted about the same times as I did when I started riding -- 7.6 mph when usually I am in the mid-8s on that trail. I had to take frequent breaks. My overall stamina was OK -- I didn't get tired as the ride progressed. I just had no power and easily got out of breath.

    I can't recall how log it was before I rode the other times I donated. I know it was less than a week, and I don't recall it being a problem. It was a week since I rode last, so that's a factor. But I've taken a week off several times before, and it didn't affect me like this. I need to get in another 40 miles to log 1500 mi for the year. I'll just keep at it I guess.

    I want to plug regional blood banks. Your blood goes to people in your community. I quit Red Cross years ago and now give to LifeSouth. They have a program where if you or an immediate family member need blood and insurance doesn't cover it, they will.

    They do test your cholesterol and blood type. You can log into their web site and get the results.

    They give the usual cookies and drink, before, during, and after donation if you want. They like for you to wait a few minutes after donating but you don't have to. I leave right away.

    They take 1 pint, and you have to be 110 lbs or more to donate. Red Cross was the same way -- must be standard in the US or Georgia.
    Last edited by DennisF; 12-20-2012 at 07:30 PM.

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